‘1600 Penn’: A tale of two sons
Skip joins a protest on the White House lawn and Xander runs for class president
"Frosting/Nixon" kicks off with the Gilchrist’s having breakfast plus Skip having a revelation that the protestors out front holding signs that say they hate the President actually mean it. "But, you’re awesome," he sputters in that Josh Gad way. Skip promptly marches out there to set them straight. Instead, he joins in the fray.
Dale’s younger son, Xander (a spot-on Benjamin Stockham), has problems of his own. He is running for class president at Darby Prep and is getting trounced by his competition, a girl named Jessica who Marigold is in awe of due to the fact that her hair smells like frosting. Everyone likes Jessica, in fact, including both her and Xander’s teacher, who is actively supporting her run. So, minutes after Skip is setting out to set the protestors straight, Emily is setting out to set the teacher straight. Once she is told, apropos of nothing, that said teacher did not vote for Dale and, furthermore, donated a lot of money to his opponent’s campaign, it becomes clear what Emily must do: run Xander’s campaign. Move # 1: Talk to some actual classmates for the first time.
Skip defends his father for half a minute before crumbling. One protestor tells Skip his dad is in bed with the auto industry, which Skip vehemently (and genuinely) denies, clarifying, "He’s in bed with my hot Step-mom." By the time Marshall, the press secretary so stressed he can’t grow a goatee anymore, gets out there to lure Skip back inside it’s too late; Skip has a list of demands for dear ol’ dad.
Throughout all of this, Becca is struggling simply to find one friend on the telephone whose life isn’t, simply put, awesome. Misery, as we all know, loves its company. But the pregnant First Daughter cannot find one, lamenting, "I should have made more loser friends."
Skip represents the protestors for half a minute before crumbling. His father responds to his concerns about mass transit with a suggestion that Skip think about the roadways themselves and the fact that we cannot let them fall apart. The list of demands is tossed; "Mind blown," Skip declares. However, this is Skip we’re talking about; he has an acoustic guitar in hand out front in no time, promising the protestors he will get them inside the White House first thing, shouting, "Tomorrow we rise!"
Emily, meantime, has completely turned Xander’s campaign around. A panic-stricken Jessica cozies up to Marigold – who she has never spoken to before – seeking out Xander’s next move. She gives Marigold one whiff of her hair and Xander’s sister gives up the location of Xander’s speech. In bed that night, Emily, enthusiastic about the quality time she spent with Xander, asks Dale how his day was. His answer is priceless: "Oh, you know. America."
By morning Skip has every protestor inside the White House. Dale is pliable, though; accessible. In no time they have call calmed down thanks to some soothing hot chocolate and the protestors feel good that they have at least been heard. Xander, too, is preparing to be heard, but when Jessica delivers his speech to the student body he and Emily are literally and figuratively speechless. She suggests simply ratting the speech-stealer out, but Xander, galvanized by his father’s fortitude, plows ahead, declaring he will think of something. What follows is what "1600 Penn" did so well in the episode where Becca spent the afternoon in the pool with Skip after it leaked she’s pregnant: this volleying of poignancy and punch-lines. Xander wings it (sounding more than a little like Linus from "Peanuts"), unintentionally promises the students gathered a soda machine, and wins the thing. In a very sweet moment he calls Emily "Mom" for the first time. He punctuates his campaign-winning speech with this battle-cry: "Today, we rise!" Apples and trees, folks; apples and trees.
"1600 Penn" airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.